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Friday, February 15, 2013
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
CNLS Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 1690)


Computational methods for meta'omic characterization of the human microbiome

Curtis Huttenhower
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Medicine

Among many surprising insights, the genomic revolution has helped us to realize that we're never alone and, in fact, barely human. For most of our lives, we share our bodies with some ten times as many microbes as human cells; these are resident in our gut and on nearly every body surface, and they are responsible for a tremendous diversity of metabolic activity, immunomodulation, and intercellular signaling. High-throughput sequencing has only recently provided a tool that allows exploration of microbial function, microbe-microbe, and host-microbe interactions in these complex and highly diverse ecologies. I will discuss emerging end-to-end bioinformatics approaches for metagenomics, including initial handling of sequence data for mixed microbial communities, its reconstruction into metabolic pathways, and biomarker discovery in disease. In particular, this will include an overview of microbial metabolism and function core to the healthy human microbiome and its disruption in polymicrobial diseases such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis. I will conclude with comments on recent work in microbial community systems biology and open questions in the dynamics of the human microbiome.

Host: Jeff Drocco